Vladimir Putin has accused his political opponents at home of trying to destabilise Russia on the West's orders and alleged that the United States killed Libyan dictator Col Muammar Gaddafi.
By Andrew Osborn
15 Dec 2011
In a ferocious verbal tirade broadcast on state TV that lasted more than four and a half hours, the Russian prime minister made it clear he was determined to return to the Russian presidency next year, scornfully dismissing recent demonstrations against him.
"I know that students were paid some money - well, that's good if they could earn something," he said, referring to the biggest protest of its kind since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union last Saturday.
Facing down the biggest challenge of his almost twelve years in power, the Russian strong man insisted that the disputed parliamentary election which triggered the protests was not flawed, rejecting calls for a re-run outright.
Despite the recent outbreak of discontent, Mr Putin remains Russia's most popular politician and is expected to comfortably win next year's presidential election.
"The motherland is my life," he said. "I believe in Russia."
Vladimir Putin lashes out at America for killing Gaddafi and backing protests - Telegraph